Sunday, October 2, 2016

And What Now?

No party here. On Plaza Bolivar, soldiers truck away
decorations intended for a SI victory celebration.
Against most expectations, and a full-press propaganda campaign by the government and major media, Colombians voted to reject the peace accord with the FARC guerrillas.

So, what happens now?

The guerrillas are already half demobilized, and looking forward to a different life.

The guerrilla leaders have gotten used to a comfortable life at the negotiation table in Havana, and don't want to return to jungle.

The government has stopped fighting the guerrillas, and prepared plans and resources for the post-war. Those are suddenly useless.

Only with difficulty can the nation turn back. But how can they go forward with a deal rejected, albeit by a tiny proportion of voters?
People debate the NO vote
on Plaza Bolivar.

But if the Santos government does try advancing with the deal in the face of public rejection, many
This man objected to impunity for
guerrillas and soldiers guilty of
human rights violations..
guerrillas may not cooperate, knowing that if supporters of ex-Pres. Uribe win the next election, they could reject the Santos government's commitments and send the guerrillas to prison.

Renewed negotiations could last years, leaving thousands of armed guerrillas sitting restless in their camps looking for something to do, with no assurance that new negotiations will be more successful. If impunity for crimes committed by the guerrillas and soldiers is why Colombians rejected the current deal, would the two sides ever accept prison terms?

The peace agreement, with its broad impunity, was deeply flawed, but may have been the best one possible.

Someone debating on Plaza Bolivar this evening suggested that the Uribistas, who rejected this peace
Voting in central Bogotá. Most Bogotanos
backed the SI, but not enough.
deal but insist that they really do want peace, should now handle the negotiations with the FARC. But sincere talks between two such fierce enemies are almost unthinkable.

And will the bilateral ceasefire continue?

And what about the ELN guerrillas, who have been talking about entering peace talks? The public's rejection of the FARC deal shatters hopes of negotiations with them. The ELN will now stay in the mountains, kidnapping, murdering and sabotaging infrastructure.

Could Santos launch a new offensive against the same guerrillas with whom he just reached a peace deal? Santo was, after all, minister of defense during Pres. Uribe's successful military offensive against the same guerrillas in the early 2000s. But now the FARC have become his political allies against Uribe. He's unlikely to start killing them.

If one thing is clear, this loss devastates the presidency of Santos, who planned to make peace his legacy and resurrects Uribe, who led a military offensive against the guerrillas.

It seems likely that many Colombians rejected the peace agreement because of the impunity it gave the FARC, who committed innumerable human rights violations.

LGBTI for the SI.
One man, who identified himself as a Christian evangelical, objected to the agreement's 'impunity' for both guerrillas and soldiers. The soldiers guilty of the 'false positive' killings "will walk away laughing," he said.

Jaime, a middle-aged man who owns a pizzeria here in La Candelaria, said he voted No because of the stipends and subsidies guerrillas were to receive. His family, who owned a farm in Antioquia, had been driven off of their land by guerrillas, and relatives murdered, he said.

"Why should I pay those people with my tax money," he said.

But it also exposes lack of confidence in the government, which put all its energy behind the peace accord.

More broadly, this vote, together with Brexit, might indicate a generalized public rejection of establishment opinion - making me more fearful that Donald Trump could be the next U.S. president.

Colombians go to sleep tonight with their future uncertain.

But if something positive came out of this, it's the proof that Colombia has a real democracy in which the population can reject the president's most important policy.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

The government put all it's efforts into a bad deal. In other words the government happily spend the peoples money on something that was not agreeable or good for them. Further the government had the audacity to sign a deal on behalf of the people without their consent. It's enough to make a person want to take up arms against the government. Oh, hand on!..

Miguel said...

"the government had the audacity to sign a deal on behalf of the people without their consent."

Wasn't that what the plebiscite was all about? Requesting consent?

Stuart Oswald said...

Of course. Except the deal was already signed. Forgotten about the blokes wearing those bloodstained white garments in Cartagena just a good few days ago? The audacity of them and the international community's elite. Somebody now needs to stand up for the people and the democratic vote it's clear Santos' position is untenable: